April 6, 2018

A Simple Foolproof Way to Segment Your Selling Time to Keep the Sales Pipeline Full


During last month’s Virtual Sales Kickoff, I shared a very simple pipeline and time management concept that really struck a chord with the audience and generated a ton of mentions and posts on social channels. So much so that it seemed important enough to post here.

The graphic above depicts this concept (that is also unpacked in Chapter 14 of New Sales. Simplified.) that I believe can have a transformative effect on the health of your sales pipeline and the consistency of your sales results.

The intentionally and overly simplified stages of a sales pipeline appear down the center of the funnel. The sales verbs associated with the stages of the pipe appear to the left, and my uber-simple prescription for balancing your time, attention, energy, and focus across opportunities and accounts in the various stages of the sales cycle appear on the right.

Why did I create this and why am I so confident this approach can transform your sales results and smooth out your deal flow? Because time is our most precious, limited resource, and most sellers are not very intentional about where they spend that resource! 

The reality is that the majority of salespeople default to spending the majority of their time working to close the hot deals in their pipeline. For easily understandable reasons, they laser-lock on those hot deals attempting to get them across the finish line. It makes sense. Our job is to close business so we default to working what’s hot. And then with the table scraps of time remaining, we move up the funnel and play with the active opportunities in our pipeline working to advance them to the hot stage. Again, makes perfect sense. Except that…

This “default” mode of managing our time and our pipelines has some very bad unintended consequences. When we spend most of our time attempting to close hot deals and devote whatever time is leftover to trying to advance warm/active opps, what happens to the health of our pipeline? More specifically, what happens to the number of deals in the active stage? Exactly! The middle stage of our funnel dries up which can create devastating consequences. After we either close or lose our hot opportunities, at some point we turn around to discover that the active section of the pipe is empty. And why is it empty? Because we ignored the top of the funnel and didn’t devote enough time and attention to PROACTIVELY working TARGETED ACCOUNTS to CREATE new opps. This in turn creates the vacuum in the mid-section of the funnel and is why so many sellers end up in a condition my friend Anthony Iannarino calls OPPORTUNITY STARVED. That’s why so many salespeople have unbalanced pipelines, inconsistent deal flow, and worse, inconsistent results.

The fix is stupidly simple:  Intentionally divide your time in thirds between these three simplified sections of your pipeline. Allow yourself 1/3 of your selling time to work on CLOSING hot deals. Dedicate another third of your effort and calendar to ADVANCING existing active opportunities. But in the name of all that’s right and good in sales, PLEASE COMMIT a full-third of your time to PROACTIVELY WORKING TARGET ACCOUNTS (including both growable customers and ideal profile prospects) to CREATE new opportunities.  I promise, promise, promise you that following this simple prescription will produce a full, healthy, balanced pipeline and help you to consistently hit or exceed your sales goal. So grab your calendar and start blocking your proactive selling time into thirds. Good things will happen. I promise.


We are now less than one month from the Biggest, Baddest Sales Conference of 2018. My friends Jeb Blount, Mark Hunter, Anthony Iannarino are hosting the Second Annual OutBound Conference in Atlanta. While the VIP package is sold out, there are still tickets for both the one-day and two-day packages available here: https://outbound.ticketspice.com/outbound-2018.   The code Mike100 will save you $100 off either ticket.

If you would like to improve your Prospecting, your Pipeline, and your Productivity, OutBound is for you.  Image

Here’s a link to a short clip with the reaction from people who attended last year’s conference. Don’t miss the rare opportunity to learn from four of the most in-demand sales authors/speakers/trainers in the world today. And Day Two not only features the four of us, but also friends, special guests, and trusted colleagues Deb Calvert, Larry Levine, Shari Levitin, and James Muir who all are offering powerful training tracks. Would love to meet you in Atlanta for OutBound!